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Narcissism in the Workplace: How to Recognize and Deal with a Narcissistic Boss

Introduction to Narcissism in the Workplace

Have you ever worked with a boss who always put themselves first, regardless of how it affected their team? Someone who seemed to be more concerned with their own image and success than the well-being of those around them? If so, you may have encountered a narcissistic boss. Narcissism is a personality disorder that can manifest in a variety of ways, including in the workplace. In this guide, we'll explore the signs of narcissism in the workplace and offer strategies for dealing with a narcissistic boss.

Understanding Narcissism

To recognize and deal with a narcissistic boss, it's important to understand what narcissism is. Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and an inflated sense of self-importance. Narcissists often have a grandiose view of themselves and believe they are entitled to special treatment and admiration from others. They may be highly competitive, and manipulative, and lack insight into their own behavior. Narcissistic behavior can be harmful in any context, but it can be especially challenging to deal with in the workplace.

narcissistic boss
narcissistic boss

Recognizing Narcissism in the Workplace

One of the first steps in dealing with a narcissistic boss is recognizing the signs of narcissism in the workplace. Some common signs include:

  • A boss who always takes credit for the work of their team

  • A boss who belittles or criticizes their employees in public

  • A boss who doesn't listen to their employees' opinions or concerns

  • A boss who expects their employees to prioritize their needs over their own

  • A boss who sets unrealistic expectations and then blames their employees when they're not met

  • A boss who is quick to anger and lash out at their employees

If you notice these signs in your boss, it's possible that they may be a narcissist.

Dealing with a Narcissistic Boss

Dealing with a narcissistic boss can be challenging, but there are strategies you can use to protect yourself. Here are some tips for dealing with a narcissistic boss:

  • Keep a paper trail: Document all of your interactions with your boss, including emails, memos, and notes from meetings. This can be helpful in case you need to protect yourself later on.

  • Don't engage in power struggles: Narcissists thrive on power struggles and conflict. Don't engage in arguments with your boss or try to prove them wrong. Instead, focus on doing your job to the best of your ability.

  • Set boundaries: It's important to set boundaries with a narcissistic boss. Let them know what you're willing and able to do, and what you're not comfortable with. Be firm and assertive, but also respectful.

  • Find allies: Try to find allies in the workplace who can offer you support and validation. This could be other coworkers, HR, or a mentor outside of your organization.

  • Practice self-care: Dealing with a narcissistic boss can be stressful and draining. Prioritize your own self-care by taking breaks when you need them, seeking therapy or counseling if necessary, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.

Protecting Your Self-Worth

Dealing with a narcissistic boss can take a toll on your self-worth. It's important to remember that your worth is not determined by your boss or anyone else. You are worthy simply because you exist. Here are some tips for protecting your self-worth:

  • Practice self-love: Take time to appreciate and love yourself. This could mean writing down affirmations, doing something that makes you feel good, or simply reminding yourself of your strengths and accomplishments.

  • Seek validation elsewhere: Don't rely on your boss for validation. Seek validation from friends, family, and other sources outside of work.

  • Set boundaries: Setting boundaries is not only important for dealing with your boss, but it's also important for protecting your self-worth. Don't allow anyone to treat you in a way that makes you feel unworthy or undervalued.

Compassion for Yourself and Your Boss

Dealing with a narcissistic boss can be frustrating and upsetting, but it's important to remember that your boss is also a human being with their own struggles and challenges. It's possible that their behavior stems from deep-seated insecurities or past trauma. While this doesn't excuse their behavior, it can help you approach the situation with compassion. Here are some tips for cultivating compassion for yourself and your boss:

  • Practice empathy: Try to put yourself in your boss's shoes and understand where they're coming from. This can help you approach the situation with a more open and compassionate mindset.

  • Practice forgiveness: Forgiveness doesn't mean excusing your boss's behavior or pretending that everything is okay. It simply means letting go of the anger and resentment you may be holding onto.

  • Focus on the positive: While it can be challenging to find the positive in a difficult situation, focusing on the things you're grateful for can help you cultivate a sense of joy and appreciation, even in the midst of a challenging experience.


Dealing with a narcissistic boss can be challenging, but it's important to remember that you have the power to protect yourself and prioritize your self-worth. By recognizing the signs of narcissism in the workplace, setting boundaries, and practicing self-care and compassion, you can navigate this difficult situation with grace and resilience. Remember, you are worthy of respect and joy, both in and out of the workplace.

In Joy and Love, Mr. Michael Adams

Director at Keep Inspiration Alive

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